Waiting in the wings during a rock and roll show offers a different perspective altogether than sitting out in the audience. The music is less moderated by the speakers or acoustics of the venue. It arrives on the ears unfettered, save for the sound of the feedback speakers at the feet of the performers.
The lights seem brighter from the wings, too, no doubt owing to the abrupt contrast of the darkness behind the curtains. The experience is surreal and honest all at the same time.
My ears tingled, like the sound of crystal breaking into a thousand pieces, as the drummer for the Bronx Wanderers struck his cymbals with fleeting authority, and my entire body felt the thump of the base drum. The sound was raw and rhythmic. As for the musicians, there is nothing quite like watching a professional player transform themselves from “hello how are you” into their essence on stage.
And so it was that I saw my friend and colleague Dennis Nardone in his element on Friday night. The radio DJ, talk-show host and oldies expert was the emcee, the impresario if you will, of one his Club Dennis rock and roll shows held at the auditorium in New Rochelle High School. Dennis, not a small man, moved around the stage light on his feet the way one does when they are happy with life. He introduced the bands—the Bronx Wanderers being the top act—bantered with the crowd and seemed larger than life. Dennis was being Dennis. He was also celebrating.
Nadone was marking 15 years of doing radio and music shows in and around Westchester. His Sunday oldies show on WVOX is one of the last and best in radio, and his Thursday afternoon talk show, Harrison Live, is home base for that local community’s news, and still draws fans from his musical exploits. The surprise here was that this little party, very well-attended even as the local football squad was winning its fifth straight game under the lights at City Field, was held to raise money for the girl’s basketball team.
That is the way Dennis Nardone rolls. Like so may people who grew up in this town, Dennis, a resident of Harrison now, always comes home. Unlike a kid back from college for the holidays, he comes home to help out and give back.
This seems to be a pattern. Craig Carton, star of a huge sports morning show on WFAN, came back a few weeks ago to host a charity softball game at City Field. Maybe it has something to do with radio? More likely, it has everything to do with the effect this town has on people. In the case of Dennis Nardone, he was not always behind a microphone.
He spent his first career working for the Department of Corrections and rose through the ranks mixing his own brand of toughness and kindness. He is no bleeding heart, or so he might have you think. But he certainly has a good heart.
Thanks for coming home, Dennis. It was nice to see you here, in your element, doing what you were meant to do.